RPI Effect Only Teams:
The Big Four RPI torpedoes remained on course this week. UMass-Lowell (3-12) beat Binghamton, and in doing so moved up to become only the second-worst team Michigan has played. They ceded that particular crown of used car parts to Houston Baptist (4-12), who lost to Stephen F. Austin, though I’m not sure whether we’re talking about the school or the long-deceased American empresario*.
South Carolina State (5-11) lost to Morgan State and Coppin State, but beat Maryland Eastern Shore, which is the second-toughest of the Maryland beaches. Coppin State (5-11) lost to Savannah State in addition to their glorious triumph over the aforementioned South Carolina State. The Fightin’ Coppinites are the only one of the Four Horsemen of the RPIpocalypse threatening to break into the Top 300.
Long Beach State (5-11) beat UC Davis, but lost to UC Irvine, and this week they take on UC Santa Barbara. What, are you afraid of Riverside? Holy Cross (7-9) lost to Bucknell, and dropped to 1-3 in the Patriot League. Charlotte (10-5) suffered a really bad loss to UTSA.
*[NOTE TO MY BIOGRAPHER: Please refer to me as an “American empresario” at every opportunity. We should probably work it into the description on the dust jacket. Call me to discuss.]
Big Sorts of Teams
#8 Iowa State (14-2, 2-2 Big 12)
This week: Lost to Oklahoma (87-82); Lost to Kansas (77-70)
Rough week for Iowa State, though losses at Oklahoma and at home to Kansas aren’t terrible. They play at Texas this week in essentially a coin-flip game. They also continue to play at a ridiculous tempo; their last three games have seen the Cyclones with 74, 78, and 79 possessions. Michigan, by comparison, hasn’t cracked 61 possessions in Big Ten play, and only exceeded 71 possessions once, when they played… Iowa State.
Florida State (11-4, 1-1 ACC)
This week: Beat Clemson (56-41); Beat Maryland (85-61)
Florida State’s defense remains really good, though given that they are the giant walking trees from the Lord of the Rings* that is probably to be expected. They are only allowing an eFG% of 41.0%. This is especially impressive when you take into account the amount of transition opportunities created by Florida State’s Indiana-like turnover numbers.
#23 Dook (13-4, 2-2 ACC)
This week: Lost to Clemson (72-59); Beat Virginia (69-65)
Beating UVA, even at home, is a quality win for Duke, and they might have had another one had they not blown a late second-half lead at Clemson.
With none of Jabari Parker’s Duke, Andrew Wiggins’ Kansas, or McDonald’s All America’s Kentucky being in the AP Top 10, you have to wonder if this signals a move away from individual play, and that the basketball world will once again begin to focus on teamwork and… yeah, sorry, probably not so much.
#1 Arizona (16-0, 3-0 PAC 12)
This week: Beat USC 73-53
Easy week for RichRod and company.
Stanford (9-4, 0-1 PAC 12)
This week: Lost to Oregon State (81-72); Beat Oregon (82-80)
That Oregon win was in Eugene, giving Stanford a second nice road win to pair with its victory at UConn in December. Weirdly, they don’t have home win over a top-125 team, losing their only two such chances to BYU and Cal. They are still a bubble team, and will probably need an upset or two to get to survive on the bubble.
* [ed-S: Treebeard if you're reading this they're just regular ents, not the entwives; sorry, we still haven't seen them, have you tried West Lafayette?]
[AFTER THE JUMP: The Big Ten and other assorted things]
In Which I Rank the B1G Based on KenPom’s Rankings
1) Wisconsin (16-1, 3-1 B1G) (up 1 spot)
This week: Lost to Indiana (75-72)
Thing: Tom Crean’s happiness rarely makes me happy. In fact, Tom Crean’s happiness is the third largest threat to the continued existence of panda bears, after only “they don’t seem to want to make sweet sweet panda love” and “Bo Ryan’s happiness.” So the pandas rejoiced, as did we all, when Indiana knocked off Wisconsin.
Could be worse, little fella.
Other thing: The Big Ten needed Indiana to hold on here, if for no other reason than Wisconsin’s hilarious schedule. They have single-plays with Michigan State and Ohio State… BOTH AT HOME. Their only away single-plays are Penn State and Nebraska. Also, Wisconsin’s football crossover games next year are with Rutgers and Maryland. I mean, what the literal hell Jim Delany.
Thing They Are Like: Like a WWE bad guy who changes his persona but remains a heel. Cool, you put on sunglasses and do more exciting stuff on offense. We still want someone to hit you with the concealed folding chair when the ref isn't looking.
2) Iowa (14-3, 3-1 B1G) (up 2 spots)
This week: Beat Ohio State (84-74)
Thing: Give the damn ball to Aaron White. Guy is shooting 69% from inside the arc, he’s getting to the free throw line at a huge clip, and he’s making 85% of his free throws once he gets there. And yet RoyDevMarbs is still soaking up way more shots with much less success.
Other Thing: Iowa caught the anti-Wisconsin schedule this year. Their single plays are Purdue, Nebraska, Penn State, and Indiana (at Indiana). They might be the best team in the conference, and still might not end up with any hardware to show for it.
Thing They Are Like: The jacuzzi from that old Jim Carrey MadTV skit: hot, fairly deep, and run by a madman.
3) Michigan State (15-1, 4-0)
This week: Beat Minnesota (87-75 OT); Beat Northwestern (54-40)
Thing: This team has a definite ceiling without Adreian Payne, and it isn’t particularly high. Going to overtime at home against Minnesota and letting Northwestern hang around for 30 minutes are, as they say, red flags. To be fair that's two of like ten games the Spartans have played this season where they let a team sniff the upset then buried them.
But none of MSU’s other bigs have Payne’s defensive presence, and none stretch the floor offensively the same way Payne does. Matt Costello isn’t ready for the full load, and Gavin Schilling can’t stay on the court (he’s averaging 9.9 (!) fouls per 40 minutes). Without Kenny Kaminski hitting 8 of 11 threes against Ohio State and Minnesota, there’s a reasonable chance they lose those two games. They’re a good team regardless, but State’s season rests precariously on one really bad foot.
Job’s faith never waivered, even when a
high ankle sprain left him out for two
to four weeks.
Other thing: This game was a reminder to never ever gamble on anything ever. MSU was a 10-point favorite (to KenPom and in Vegas), and had a 2 point lead with under 10 seconds to go and two Gary Harris free throws coming. He missed them, Minnesota tied the game, and MSU won the overtime 18-4. Don’t not gamble because gambling is bad. Don’t gamble because sports.
Other thing: Thing They Are Like: Job. Before the season is over they will have 3000 camels stolen by the Wisconsinites and their 7000 sheep will be consumed by the “couch fire of God that fell from the sky.” And don’t get me started on the boils and pestilence.
4) Ohio State (15-3, 2-3 B1G) (down 3 spots)
This week: Lost to Iowa (84-74); Lost to Minnesota (63-53)
Thing: Ohio State still hasn’t beaten a team in the current KenPom top 50, and they won’t have another chance to do so until February. Their best win remains over 10-7 Marquette.
Other Thing: The LaQuinton Ross conundrum continues. He’s the only player Ohio State has who is capable of taking over games, but he hasn’t consistently been able to do so. He takes more than 31% of Ohio State’s shots when he’s on the floor, a higher clip than anyone else in the Big Ten, and he has done so as the 5th most effective shooter the Buckeyes have. Plus, most of the people who take that many shots either do so with much higher assist numbers (Marble, Ferrell, Gary Harris), or because they are one of the few good players on the team (Petteway, Crawford).
Thing They Are Like:
5) Michigan (12-4, 4-0 B1G)
This week: Beat Penn State (80-67)
Thing: Michigan’s 4-0 conference start is largely a product of schedule, but 4-0 is 4-0, having a 4 in it followed by a 0. They held serve, and now play with house money for a little while as they can’t really expect to win the next three. One win would be par, with two wins putting them firmly in the “serious contender” category. As it is, Michigan is sort of the 5th Beatle, and they need to beat someone substantial to get past Ringo.
Thing They Are Like: Little Mac. They’ve taken down the Glass Joes and Von Kaisers of the boxing world, and are now set to take on King Hippo and Bald Bo. And watch out for the new character, Raging Fran.
foul foul foul foul foul foul foul
6) Minnesota (14-4, 3-2 B1G)
Thus Far: Lost to Michigan State (87-75 OT); Beat Ohio State (63-53)
Thing: Michigan’s win at the Barn looks a little shinier in light of yesterday’s beating of Ohio State.
Thing They Are Like: 2013 Michigan Football. Close wins in games they probably should have won by more, and close losses in games that they had a chance to win but managed to blow in infuriating ways.
7) Indiana (12-5, 2-2 B1G) (up 1 spot)
This week: Beat Wisconsin (75-72)
Thing: Amazing what happens when you hold onto the damn ball. Indiana only turned the ball over 9 times, and didn’t turn it over at all in the last 10:30 of the game, and voila.
Other Thing: Indiana desperately needs someone to step up on the offensive end along with Yogi Kevin-Ferrell, and it’s possible that freshman Stanford Robinson could be that guy. His minutes have increased steadily, as has his production. Between those two and Noah Vonleh, Indiana MIGHT be able to squeeze out enough wins to make the tournament. But that would make everyone sad. Plus, the panda thing.
Thing They Are Like: Reverse Superman. They can take on anyone, but their powers are only exist on their home planet. Is it possible Superman’s powers were just a series of really generous calls from the refs?
HENRI LINE OF ENNUI
8) Illinois (13-4, 2-3 B1G) (down 1 spot)
This week: Lost to Northwestern (yes, THAT Northwestern) (49-43); lost to Purdue (66-58)
Thing: Welcome to the area below the otter, Illinois. That’s what happens when you only score 19 points in the first 27 minutes… against NORTHWESTERN. Now, I know, I know, Northwestern’s defense isn’t that bad. But they aren’t the ‘85 Bears. KenPom has them favored to lose 12 of their last 13. You were ranked last week. This is not a good look.
Related thing: Ignore that thing last week where I allegedly said Illinois was better than people thought. That never happened.
Other Thing: Illinois is really struggling with shot selection, with Tracy Abrams and Nnanna Egwu the primary culprits. So many jumpers.
Thing They Are Like: Illinois, circa the last however many years:
9) Purdue (11-5, 2-2 B1G)
This week: Beat Nebraska (70-64); Beat Illinois (66-58)
Thing: When AJ Hammons wants to play, man can he be a dominant force. With Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary out, there really isn’t anyone in the Big Ten who can hang with Hammons in the post on either end (with the possible exception of Amir Williams). The problem is that he only seems to want to play sometimes. The Gabe Watson is strong with this one.
The Boilermakers need to upgrade their
Other thing: Can Purdue make the tourney? Eh, It’d be a stretch. They’d probably need to win a couple of games KenPom expects them to lose, like their games at Penn State and at home against Minnesota. Finishing at 19-12, 9-9 and then winning a game at the Big Ten Tournament would probably be enough.
Thing They Are Like: Purdue has taken over Illinois’ previous designation as “generic sports underdog who lose in the end but learn a valuable lesson along the way.” For this week, they are Cool Runnings.
10) Nebraska (8-8, 0-4 B1G)
This week: Lost to Purdue (70-64)
Thing: Michigan beat this team. That is all we need to know about this.
Thing they are like: Akron. Maybe they are better than we thought, and our nailbiting escape is more a symptom of their goodness than of the alarming potential weaknesses in Michigan’s team.
11) Penn State (9-9, 0-5 B1G) (down 2 spots)
This week: Lost to Michigan (80-67);
Thing: John Johnson is a very willing shooter. At one point on Tuesday he had Donovon Jack on Derrick Walton in the post, but he said SCREW THAT I CAN SEE THE BUCKET WHEEEEEEEE. Also, John Johnson is not from Wisconsin, which is a shame.
Thing They Are Like:
12) Northwestern (8-9, 1-3 B1G)
This week: Beat Illinois (!!!)(49-43); Lost to Michigan State (54-40)
Thing: Quite the week for Northwestern. They beat Illinois, and had MSU on the ropes kinda sorta a little bit but not really. Now, that took MSU going 2 of 16 from deep and putting up 6 airballs in the first half alone, but if they can force more teams to forget where the basket is, they’ve got a shot going forward.
Thing They Are Like: Defensively they are Haribo gummy bears. Offensively they are Haribo sugarless gummy bears.
If Today Was Late March
Michigan State (#1),Wisconsin (#1/2), Ohio State (#3?), Iowa (#4)
Northwestern Memorial Wrong Side of the Bubble Award
Illinois, Indiana, Purdue
Rutgers Memorial What's a Bubble Award
Penn State, Nebraska, Northwestern
· Friday looking forward to the weekend.
· Northwestern @ Indiana, 2:30, BTN
· Michigan @ Wisconsin, 6:00, ESPN
· Penn State @ Purdue, 7:00, ESPNU
· Michigan State @ Illinois, 8:00, BTN
· Minnesota @ Iowa, 1:00, BTN: I don’t know who you want to win this game
· Ohio State @ Nebraska, 7:00, BTN
· Indiana @ Michigan State, 7:00, ESPN
· Purdue @ Northwestern, 9:00, BTN
· Iowa @ Michigan, 7:00, BTN
· Wisconsin @ Minnesota, 9:00, BTN
· Illinois @ Ohio State, 7:00, BTN
· Nebraska @ Penn State, 8:00, ESPN